As the MLB regular season gets set for its final month, the Nationals and Braves are preparing for what should be an exciting two-team race for the N.L. East crown. But despite an expected close finish, the Nats maintain their plans to shut down ace Stephen Strasburg before the season ends. The Braves on the other hand, are deciding to continue rolling with Kris Medlen, another young pitcher who had Tommy John surgery towards the end of 2010.
Medlen has, however, pitched just 87 innings this season compared to 145 13 for Strasburg. The Braves started the right-hander in the bullpen which is why his innings total is so low.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Atlanta GM Frank Wren gave manager Fredi Gonzalez a choice regarding Medlen at the beginning of the season: start him in the bullpen and extend his season or begin with him in the rotation and risk having him shut down. The Braves reportedly would have stuck with a 160-180 innings limit if needed, similar to the Nats.
It presents a different scenario for the Nationals and teams dealing with pitchers recovering from Tommy John surgery. For Strasburg and the Nats, the situation is much different considering the money and expectations involved. Medlen was not a former number one pick and at this point isn't expected to someday be one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Braves also already lost their ace pitcher this season when Brandon Beachy underwent Tommy John back in June.
The Nationals wanted Strasburg to begin this season like any normal starter would, with a full spring training and starts every fifth day. They had no intention of putting him in the bullpen and likely never considered it.
Time will tell which team, if not both, made the right decision. But nonetheless, the Braves are moving forward this year with Medlen and expect to have him for the pennant race and in the playoffs.
Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 in seven innings, Bryce Harper had two doubles and two RBIs, and the Washington Nationals beat the Chicago Cubs 8-4 on Wednesday night.
Anthony Rendon and Matt Wieters hit back-to-back homers against John Lackey (5-9) during Washington's four-run second inning. After the Cubs pulled within three at 6-3, Daniel Murphy went deep in the fifth.
It was a rough day for the Cubs, who cut veteran catcher Miguel Montero after he criticized pitcher Jake Arrieta for his role in the Nationals' seven steals in Tuesday's 6-1 win over the World Series champions. Then reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant departed with an apparent right ankle injury.
Bryant awkwardly clipped third base while catching a foul pop off the bat of Wieters in the sixth. He walked around gingerly before being helped off the field.
With Bryce Harper's free agency approaching in 2018, the Nationals slugger has kept his options open as everyone is speculating about where he'll end up when his contract with the Nats has come to an end.
From the Yankees to the Cubs, the rumor mill simply isn't stopping. And, perhaps, another clue about his plans has appeared.
Before Tuesday night's matchup against the Cubs, Harper posted an Instagram with his wife, Kayla, along with childhood friend and Cubs third baseman, Kris Bryant, and Bryant's wife, Jess.
That was nothing unusual as the pair grew up playing baseball together in their hometown of Las Vegas. However, the caption is what stuck out.
RELATED: THE NATIONALS PLAYED A HUGE ROLE IN A CUB BEING RELEASED
"Just two Vegas boys living out our dream with the ones we love! This is what it's all about..What a time to be alive🙌🏻#MLB #702 #Back2BackOneDay"
Social media went into a frenzy over what seemed like an allusion to Harper's future: he wants to eventually join back up with his childhood buddy Kris Bryant, just like the good ol' days.
Adding to the worry is that Harper's dog is named Wrigley.
Are the Cubs a shoo-in for Bryce Harper with the appeal of his childhood best friend and his dog's name?
Could this allusion mean heading up the windy city and a reunion for Harper and his pal?
Did Harper just hint at his future with the Cubs with an Instagram hashtag?